Custom web sites that wowed us

January 14, 2010  •  Leave a Comment

Our latest update introduced portfolio layouts and theme customizations. Although it has been out for a little over two weeks, we have been blown away by the variety of amazing sites created by our customers!

I would like to review a few sites that caught my attention and talk about what makes these sites work so well. 

Duncan Grove Photography

Duncan Grove Photography is using a monochrome color scheme. Page background, text, header, and decorations -- all use shades of gray. This puts visual emphasis on the photographs while keeping the rest of the page elements subdued.

Duncan set the Home page layout to be Dynamic, which means that the slideshow will be maximized to take advantage of all the available screen real estate, creating a stunning viewing experience on any screen. Note how the height of the logo is matched to the height of the menu, which makes the top section of the page nicely aligned.

All slideshow images are hand-picked to have the same aspect ratio, so that they always fill the entire slideshow frame without leaving any empty space. This page is a good example of how great photographs make the page impactful and memorable.

J Photography

This photographer chose a very minimalistic approach, and the result is a simple and clean page. Horizontal logo and a welcome message were placed to the left of the slideshow. The first image of the slideshow has the aspect ratio of 2/1, which sets the slideshow frame to be wider. This layout leaves large areas of empty space above and below the slideshow, creating a unique home page.

It is also notable that the Wedding Group uses a Theme different from the Home page. The logo and the site menu located in the dark header ensures the continuity, while using a different Theme makes pages more interesting. Zenfolio customization engine allows you to have as many custom Themes as you want, so you can create Themes specific to each gallery, providing your visitors with an elegant and unique viewing experience. 

Steve Hale Images

Steve's Home page puts a strong emphasis on slideshow images. His large, horizontally-oriented logo works very well with the page layout. Steve decided to put the 'All Photographs' section below the slideshow in addition to linking to it from the site menu. When Steve's site is initially loaded, most visitors will see the slideshow and the site menu only. Those who prefer scrolling will be able to enter the galleries directly from the Home page. Also, notice how Steve configured the site menu items. He utilized the feature that allows to specify where each menu item is used. The link to 'Home' appears on inside pages only, but not on the Home page; the footer has the link back to the galleries to simplify navigation. This is another good example of how a minimalistic approach yields a very clean and professional-looking web site.

Timeflight Photography

This impressive site was put together using Zenfolio preset graphics for page background and for thumbnail borders. However, a very nice custom image is used for representing groups on layout pages, making the site unique. Using a yellowish color for links and button frames makes them very noticeable on a dark background, improving site's usability.

As in the first example, all slideshow images are carefully selected to have exactly the same aspect ratio, which creates a smooth and pleasant viewing experience. The slideshow can really make a difference in your site's appearance. You can burn some subtle marketing messaging into your images, or add your logo for an even more customized look.

My personal favorite is how the vignetting effect on some of the slideshow images accentuates the fade-out effect of the background image. Nice work!

In conclusion, I'd like to say again how incredibly exciting it is for us to see the variety of sites created by our customers. It is also great to see how quickly our passionate community embraced the new features. There are several great threads on our forums, where photographers share their sites, exchange feedback, ideas, themes, and design elements. As usual, we are listening to all feedback!


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